Did you know that 17% of food produced globally is wasted each year, according to a new report by the United Nation. Of these, 61% are in households. Every Canadian, on average, throws away 170kg of food each year, that equals to 1 lb of food every day! Not only does the waste have an economic costs, it also creates tonnes of greenhouse gas emission, as most of the food ends up in landfills.
One of the things we can do as consumers is to have a better understanding around expiry dates or best before dates, so we don't end up throwing things out just because the package says so.
Expiry Dates vs Best Before Dates
An expiry date is not the same as a best-before date. Expiration dates are required only on certain foods that have strict compositional and nutritional specifications which might not be met after the expiration date. For example infant formula or meal replacements.
These food should not be bought, sold or eaten if the expiration date has passed. It should be discarded.
Best-before date on the other hand is not an indicator of food safety, neither before nor after the date. A "best-before" date, also known as a durable life date, tells you when the durable life period of a prepackaged food ends. It indicates to consumers that if the product has been properly handled (stored correctly), the unopened product should be of high quality until the specified date. It can be used interchangeably with "use by" date.
It is illegal to sell food that has passed its expiry date, but not the best-before date, although food that are close to best-before dates are almost always heavily discounted in the grocery stores. Time for a bargain if you are the savvy shopper who can make an informed buying decision.
Food That Almost Never Expires
Some food, if stored correct, they will last forever (or almost forever). You can also keep some of these in your pantry as emergency food supplies. The list below is by no means exhaustive.
Store in a cool, dry area and keep the lid on tight, honey can truly last forever.
2. Maple Syrup
You need to refrigerate it after opening but for longterm storage, freeze it in an airtight container.
3. Corn Syrup
Store in a cool, dry place with lid on tight.
It never expires (unless iodised), it will never lose flavour so it will always tastes the same.
Place in an airtight container or heavy-duty plastic bag. Store in a cool, dry area.
6. Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce is fermented, an unopened bottled never expires. Store it in a cool, dry area. After it is opened, store it in the refrigerator, and it will still last for a long time.
7. Baking Soda
When left sealed, it will last indefinitely.
8. Dried Beans
Virtually all dried beans can be stored indefinitely when stored in a cool, dry place.
White, arborio, wild, basmati, and jasmine rice will all last forever if kept dry and free from contaminants.
10. Instant Coffee
When it is vacuum freeze-dried, it will last forever if kept in a dry airtight container.
Sources: Canadian Food Inspection Agency - Food Label Requirement